I may be walking the line of civility with this poem.
It describes the awkward position that many older people, who identify as white, find themselves in, as protests and expressions of racial discontent fill the airwaves. Having precious little to complain about, themselves, they feel compelled to declare themselves allies, to whatever group feels most put upon by them, at the moment.
Stephen Colbert, on the Colbert Report, as his eponymous, conservative, bumbling alter-ego, frequently declared himself “colorblind”, in the sense that he did not see color at all, in his fellow human beings. His subsequent statements in the interview would usually betray his underlying prejudice, to great comic effect. Now, nearly fifteen years later, his tongue-in-cheek humor might not go over so well.
It is the statements we make, from this reservoir of underlying, inbred, almost unconscious prejudice, that can be most hurtful. Because the person speaking seems to have no clue, as to the insult their comments carry. To endure these, year after year, takes a thick skin, indeed.
I’m not sure that any “white” person, whose life stretches back to the age of Segregation and Jim Crow in the American South, can get off scot-free. We are all to blame.
But I think many people of this vintage easily bristle, at the more assertive demands of racial politics. Such as demands for reparations for those descended from slavery. Renaming schools and tearing down statues. Or the subtle and palpable threat true equality poses, to the many privileges, that are still arbitrarily and more or less exclusively awarded, to those who look “white.”
In this poem, I try to portray this hypocritical, or at least schizophrenic, outward claim, of love for all humankind, paired with the more insidious notions, that flood many “white” brains, at the slightest perceived threat to their status quo.
Not a pretty picture. Could use a little more color, I suspect.
Thanks for coming by to read!
I do not mind, the color of
your skin is white or black.
I hold no animosity.
I’m planning no attack.
I don’t regret you’re Asian. No!
Or blame you. for our woes.
For COVID has no color.
It’s a thing I simply know.
I do not mind the fact, that you
Were in our Nation First.
Although my tongue may slip
And call you “Indian,” at my worst.
I don’t mind, you’re Hispanic–
You will soon us all outnumber!–
And some of you have been here since
The voyage of Columbus.
I don’t mind you’re South Asian.
I may ask you to repeat
Your words, if I don’t hear you right.
Forgive me, I entreat.
I always welcome immigrants–
Of now, and long ago.
So pasty-white our country
Never was. And isn’t so.
I treat each person equally.
I celebrate all races.
(Though talk of reparations, and
I’ll spit upon your faces!)
Yes, one could say I’m color blind:
I treat each one alike.
(But try to steal my privilege, and
You all can take a hike!)
My one concern is not your color.
Not some ethnic trick.
I welcome every tone of skin,
As long as it is thick.
Copyright 2021 Andrea LeDew